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Permanent link to archive for Saturday, June 07, 2003. Saturday, June 07, 2003

NY Times: "Forty-three million Americans -- half of those who connected to the Internet -- used file-sharing software last month." 

The crib sheet for my talk on Monday is starting to come together. 

Philip G, the proto-blogger, is back.  

Interesting data shows up when Daypop's filters are broken, as they are right now. 

Pito Salas: "Now that I installed Radio, I find myself strangely tempted to start writing." 

Mitch Kapor is switching to Mozilla. 

The Planetwork conference in San Francisco sounds great. Wish I could have been there. 

Chris Lydon: "If half of New York believed that that Martha Stewart was the Mets' shortstop, The Times would not only set us straight, it would inquire how the misconception arose, even ask if their pages had contributed to it." 

Tell the story of Open Studios, May 18-19. 

It's worth a mention that it's 358 days since I had a cigarette. I still smoke in my dreams, I still deal with the hypocrisy of wanting to live and actively killing myself. But in the waking world I am a non-smoker. In seven days it will be one year since I had the rush of nicotine flowing through my blood. I still want one, at some level. But when I check into a hotel and they ask "Smoking or non-smoking?" I say "Non-smoking" and feel a touch of pride in that. 

George Ziemann: Thomas Edison, Intellectual Property and the Recording Industry

Three years ago today, I released UserLand's RSS 0.91 spec, with comments on Scripting News. I intended it to be a baseline for collaboration among content developers and CMS developers and people working on aggregators. "RSS 0.91 was a major traffic accident that turned out pretty well." 

Last week a culture of no-flames seems to have taken root in the RSS community. Credit is due to Sam Ruby, for having the guts to stand up to the flamers, all of them, on equal terms. It was interesting to see how he got there. He was trying to be balanced, then he noticed something that few people had noticed before (I had but it didn't matter because the flames are generally aimed at me). Here's what Sam noticed. Most people weren't flaming, and those who were generally responded positively when asked to stop. Only a small number of people insist on their right to flame. That's where the bug is, and always has, been. Personal statements about other people are not appropriate in a technical discussion. There's no point discussing it, they're just simply not appropriate. 

A new philosophy for dealing with flamers. "I said comments and questions are welcome, I didn't say I would be willing to get into an argument."  

Thanks to Chris Pirillo for the link to this article about amateur and professional shareware.  

Employees with weblogs 

In a perfect world, every person in an organization would have a public weblog and would use it professionally to communicate within the organization (privately) and outside the organization and everyone could be confident that every person would use the new technology properly and with due respect for the organization. Of course it doesn't work this way, and there's not much difference between weblogs and other communication technology, such as the telephone, email, instant messaging, etc. The employer must maintain a certain level of control over what's said on behalf of the company. Example, an employee who encourages potential customers to use a competitive product, even where your product is better, no matter what the medium of communication, has limited career options.

Businesses as publications 

If I were starting a new company in 2003, I would put in the charter that, in addition to whatever else my company did, the new company would be a publication. I'd hire an editor in chief, parallel to the CFO and CTO. This person's charter would be to cover the company, much the same way the editor of the San Jose Mercury News covers Silicon Valley. There is a built-in conflict of interest. The editor of the Merc has an interest in the success of the Valley, as the editor of the Boston Globe is a fan of Boston. It's okay if the Merc editor roots for the Sharks, and it's okay for the editor fo the Globe to root for the Red Sox. But even if there's bad news for the Valley or for Boston, you expect them to cover it, although you might look to the Merc for bad news about Boston, and vice versa, just to triangulate.

In my recent talks with the Times, I briefly suggested what I think is an important idea that bears more exposure. Whenever I've been covered in the Times, or some other big publication, I've often wanted to add more to the story, or correct something. In the future, I have no doubt that informed readers will expect businesses to run their own news services to refute coverage elsewhere, and that more and more the intermediaries, the professional pubs, will be factored out. I'm sure there are other examples of services that used to be centralized that become decentralized when technology permits.

John Naughton wrote in the Sunday Observer (UK) on June 1: "When it comes to many topics in which I have a professional interest, I would sooner pay attention to particular blogs than to anything published in Big Media -- including the venerable New York Times. This is not necessarily because journalists are idiots; it's just that serious subjects are complicated and hacks have neither the training nor the time to reach a sophisticated understanding of them -- which is why much journalistic coverage is inevitably superficial and often misleading, and why so many blogs are thoughtful and accurate by comparison."

I gave Naughton some grief for repeating oft-repeated themes on Scripting News, but seriously it makes my skin tingle to read that in the Guardian. Yes, we have the experts "out here" in Amateur-Land. And there's no doubt that over time more of them will be speaking.


Last update: Saturday, June 07, 2003 at 6:38 PM Eastern.

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